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From Disgruntled Consumer to Disruptive Inventor

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They say “necessity is the mother of invention.” In Matthew Burwick’s case, the adage holds true. 

Buwick’s creative process for developing Bob the Pillow was not enjoyable. Chronic pain coursing through his entire body and exhausting nights spent in poor sleep were the needs that prompted his transformation from consumer to inventor.

Spurring invention from a half-solved problem

When Burwick was six years old, a close neighbor was first to notice his limp. After extensive x-rays and several misdiagnoses, his family learned he had a condition called Legg Perthes disease.

Burwick spent six months in a full-body cast and emerged with a functional hip. Unfortunately, his legs were mismatched by about an inch in height. That minor discrepancy led to years of pounding on the joint.

“First, I felt knee pain,” recalls Burwick. “Heel and foot pain came next. Eventually, the pain spread to my shoulders, neck, and back. I was a 20-something trapped in a 90-year-old’s body.”

Burwick embarked on an orthopedic health journey, including heel lifts, chiropractor visits, low-intensity exercises, and various surgeons. At one point, his chiropractor mentioned the benefits of sleeping with a pillow between his legs.

After research, Burwick bought his first leg pillow. “I was thrilled to see my pain decrease,” he remembers, “but I wasn’t completely satisfied with that pillow. I tried another, then another, but each one fell short in some way from being the solution I needed.”

Turning the quest for a solution into a concrete product

Roughly 20 leg pillows later, Burwick remained convinced a solution was out there, but was unable to find it. A particularly rough week of sleep combined with the global lockdown was the perfect storm that transformed a frustrated consumer into a full-fledged entrepreneur.

“My latest pillow would not stay in place during the night,” Burwick remembers. “I woke up on my stomach at all hours. Every morning, I got out of bed in worse pain than the day before.”

Burwick phoned his friend and future business partner and within hours, the pair was in a garage with furniture foam from a local fabric store and a hot glue gun. The first iterations of Bob the Pillow were laughable, but the goal was clear: make a pillow that would stay in place and keep people on their sides.

“We took pictures, sketched ideas, and found a CAD designer to bring our concept to life,” says Burwick. “Believe it or not, in under four months, we had a 3D-printed prototype for the inside of the pillow and sourced a seamstress in China capable of creating the complicated pillowcase. It wasn’t long before we had working samples.”

Understanding the process of invention

Aside from invention and product creation, innovation entails plowing through a mountain of mundane tasks. Burwick contacted a patent attorney, wrote a formal patent application, created a website, designed a logo, filed for trademarks, reviewed logistics companies, and established working relationships with importers who could ship Bob the Pillow from China to the warehouse. He coordinated all of these tiny tasks during a global pandemic and supply chain crisis.

“All of the jobs like design, legal, taxes, insurance, production, and shipping take an insane amount of time,” Burwick warns. “It’s easy to overlook details you find less exciting, but that is bound to bring trouble down the road.”

The final phase of invention involved spreading the word. Burwick chose to launch slowly and collect feedback as he went. “Strategic conversations with consumers early on gave us time to address customer input and make improvements as we grew,” he says. “Once you know there is a real need for the solution you are bringing to the market, all you have to do is educate yourself and push forward.”

Burwick’s motivation throughout the process of innovation and entrepreneurship sprang from a desire to get his pillow to people with chronic pain and sleepless nights. Today, he is thrilled every time he hears that a customer wakes up feeling better. 

“Remember that just because a solution is available doesn’t mean the problem is solved,” Burwick advises. “Your idea may be just the solution for a problem that is only halfway solved. Our greatest joy is speaking to people who benefit from Bob the Pillow. My mission is to put our product into the hands of anyone dealing with long-lasting pain and give them the healing gift of sleep.”

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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Lifestyle

The Role of Medicine in Achieving and Sustaining a Healthy Body Mass

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The CDC’s latest numbers classify approximately 42 percent of Americans as obese, and over two-thirds of American adults qualify as either obese or overweight. Living with excess weight heightens people’s risk for debilitating and chronic but otherwise preventable conditions like stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

With new weight-loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy on the rise, many are wondering if these medications live up to their hype and can even help end the obesity epidemic. Sergio Padron, founder and CEO of online healthcare and weight-loss support company MD Exam, believes they can — up to a point.

“It’s important to approach these medications with a thorough understanding of what they can and can’t do,” Padron says. “Magic pills for weight loss don’t exist.”

The importance of achieving a healthy body mass

According to Padron, achieving and sustaining a healthy body mass is key to good health. To obtain your body mass index (BMI), online calculators like this one from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ask for your height and weight, run them through the standard formula, and generate your score. The last step is to find this number in the standardized ranges considered underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.

“Many healthcare professionals use the body mass index (BMI) for a quick approximation of most people’s health,” he explains. “All you need is the patient’s weight and height, and you can calculate this number.”

There are exceptions, however. “In particular, bodybuilders and other athletes can generate results that make it seem like they aren’t healthy, when in fact they’re in excellent condition,” Padron explains. “That’s because BMI doesn’t consider muscle mass, and muscle is more dense than fat. In addition, BMI doesn’t account for visceral fat being more dangerous than fat deposits elsewhere in the body.”

That’s why Padron cautions people not to make snap judgments based on BMI alone and to seek a more comprehensive view from healthcare professionals. “Factors like body composition, blood markers, and lifestyle need to be considered,” he explains, “which is one of the many reasons why we only offer individualized care at MD Exam.”

If your BMI falls in the overweight or obese categories, then it’s time to make a change. “Unfortunately, excess body weight means you could be developing major health problems that you otherwise wouldn’t,” Padron says. “Being overweight has also been associated with depression. In my experience, it can have a negative impact on self-esteem and even lead to the development of eating disorders.”

Luckily, groundbreaking new drugs have become available to help people recover their quality of life.

How Ozempic and Wegovy can help

According to Padron, pharmaceutical solutions like Ozempic and Wegovy can help most people achieve and sustain a healthy body mass. These medications reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness, thereby enabling people to regulate their consumption better.

“One of the most important things our patients report is that they’re no longer tormented by cravings,” Padron says. “They find it easier to avoid overeating in the first place.”

In addition, Ozempic and Wegovy have been shown to decrease visceral fat — the dangerous kind of fat deposits. “The idea is to optimize health and well-being, not just lose weight,” Padron says. “We want to make sure you lose the right pounds. When you lose visceral fat and keep muscle, you are heading in the right direction and your body composition improves.”

In some rare cases, however, Ozempic and Wegovy aren’t effective. “Luckily, other interventions can be effective in those cases, such as Tirzepatide or classic weight-loss drugs,” Padron says.

Yet Padron emphasizes that weight-loss drugs alone are insufficient to achieve and sustain a healthy body mass.

Personalized, comprehensive support

“Just taking a pill won’t make pounds disappear,” Padron says. “To lose weight, it’s necessary to get real about your lifestyle and actually change your habits. If you haven’t been exercising, for instance, then it’s time to start getting up a little earlier and going for a morning walk. If you haven’t been eating well, then it’s time to stop buying soda and junk food.”

Easier said than done? “We know it’s hard,” Padron says. “That’s why our program takes support seriously. Our medical staff works with patients one-on-one to develop treatment plans that will work for them. We also provide coaching and connect patients to each other for mutual support and accountability. MD Exam is a community. People make friends for life on our platform.”

Lose weight, feel great

Obtaining a healthy body mass often leads to increased energy levels, improved mobility, and reduced joint pain. It can also help control chronic conditions like high blood pressure and sleep apnea, as well as forestall the development of preventable diseases. If that isn’t already enough, it can also boost patients’ self-confidence and mental health.

“Our patients experience an incredible feeling of accomplishment and empowerment,” Padron says. “Losing weight can be truly transformative. I can’t tell you how many people have told me their whole outlook on life has become more positive.”

For Padron, helping people lose weight is its own reward. “I love watching people shed their depression and come back to life,” he says. “This is the most rewarding work I can imagine.”

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